A new way to key into classical music

Luminary pianist Lang Lang notes how a recently released app could connect the genre with ordinary listeners, Fang Aiqing reports.

By Fang Aiqing | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-02-19 07:52
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Lang particularly emphasizes the importance of cultivating an interest in listening to and learning classical music for young piano players. CHINA DAILY

If Frederic Chopin's music can be described as an apple pie with whipped cream on top, then Franz Liszt's would taste spicy, Johann Sebastian Bach's could be likened to fine bread, and that of Ludwig van Beethoven would be stewed pork knuckle. Spanish seafood paella or Russian borscht would also be great.

That is the way pianist Lang Lang introduced classical composers he appreciates to an audience of all ages and walks of life in Beijing on Jan 25.

Have a balanced diet and be open to every type of music, suggests the musician, who is a household name in China.

The 41-year-old has been keenly promoting classical music to a wider audience in recent years. He believes the diverse genre can be enjoyed in multiple ways, either as background music at work or on a subway trip, as a way of cheering up when feeling gloomy, or an intensive auditory and visual feast in concert halls.

Since he was speaking to a crowd of laypeople, Lang avoided using technical vocabulary but answered the abstract question — how he expresses music that's so rigorous in its structure in his own style — with a concrete and visual explanation. That is, by analyzing the composers' handwritten scores.

For example, he says that Beethoven composed in an authoritative way, delineating things clearly in detail like a series of laws to follow. But people can also feel what he wanted when they see his wild scribbles jotted down for a presto segment.

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